In 2017, Kentucky enacted a law that required any medical malpractice claim to be reviewed by a panel of experts and an attorney before the claimants could file their suit in court. This caused a mandatory delay, contradicting Kentucky's own constitution that states every person has access to the courts without delay. At the end of 2018, this law was declared unconstitutional. Cases in Kentucky can move forward much faster now.
Fines against nursing homes that were found to injure or endanger their residents were significantly reduced after the Trump administration changed its policy on the issue. Average fines dropped from $41,260 in 2016 under the Obama administration to $28,405 under Trump. The reason why fines decreased so much is due to a policy that changed the way nursing homes in North Carolina and other states were fined. It changed from the number of days they were out of compliance to a single fine for each reported violation.
Virtually all skilled nursing facilities accept taxpayer dollars via Medicare. As a condition of being able to get paid Medicare dollars, Medicare has regulations that set minimum standards for the quality of nursing care provided in nursing homes. The purpose of these regulations is in part to ensure proper care is given in order to avoid neglect, injury, and even death to nursing home patients. These regulations, 42 CFR 483.25, address some of the more common types of problems we see in nursing home cases, problems that can lead to injury, or even death.
Richmond Pines nursing home in Hamlet, North Carolina was ranked by Medicare as the worst nursing home in North Carolina as of September 1, 2018, based on the ranking system for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Due to serious deficiencies that have the potential for hurting patients, the facility was placed on CMS' Special Focus Facilities List, which means it has a limited amount of time to improve its quality of care before CMS imposes serious consequences, such as terminating the nursing home from participating in Medicare and Medicaid permanently. As a result of an inspection that found one patient outside unaccompanied, and another trapped between the mattress and footboard of a bed, the facility has already been terminated from reimbursements from Medicare and Medicare.